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My husband's driving triggers my panic attacks

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Question - (23 August 2018) 7 Answers - (Newest, 25 August 2018)
A female age 26-29, anonymous writes:

I suffer from anxiety, and i have been married for 7 years now. I constantly have an argument with my husband whenever he is driving. I have severe fear from driving (specially highways), and i always argue with my husband if he just slightly gets distracted or basically if i noticed that a car is very close to ours, i go into a panic attack.

A week ago, we got into a car accident, we haven't got injured, however the person who bumped behind us got some injuries.

It wasn't out fault anyways, but my anxiety just got more intense. Sometimes my husband think im over reacting, but its out of my hand and hard to explain the fear.

Should i visit a psychologist? Or should i just face my fear and start to drive more often?

I got a driving license however i just always drive to work (which is close to my house) or any where that is near, but never to places that might take a long time.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (25 August 2018):

I get it better than alot of people on here.I have the same problem.Never ever had it then boom had a stroke and now I have anxiety.No one can understand how bad it can be unless you go thru it yourself.People and even doctors think it is no big deal.What I hate so much is when we are on the road next to a truck that is the worst.I will shake and cannot control it.I have tried to read while in the car cannot do it.i do not drive.Sometimes I look down at the car floor so I do not have to see out the window.Some drugs can help but are very addictive.They had me on xannax for a while it really did help alot but then we moved new doc took me off them and I went thru terrible withdrawals only nine months after a stroke.Withdrawls are just like they are on TV but worse.I am lucky I did not stoke out again and die.If you live in a mj legal area that really helps is not addictive.Just try to stay away from any pills for it they really help at the time but are just not worth it.Rember to breath and sometimes just closing your eyes and counting your breaths can help calm you.your husband does not get it because he does not have it.people who do not have it will never understand how bad it can be.I understand because I have it and I live it everyday.I hope this helps and rember you are not alone.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (25 August 2018):

Do you have a clinical-diagnosis or self-diagnosis of your anxiety? Some people claim panic-attacks just based on the fact they freak-out once in awhile. They are high-strung, or nervous by nature. That doesn't always require pills and therapy.

It would seem you'd be prescribed anxiety-medication; if you were regularly seeking therapy for your anxiety. I assume you're just winging it? Be that the case, you must be driving your husband crazy!

Patience gets short around jumpy or nervous people. It's not fair to characterize your husband in a negative light; he is only human. If he is aware of your condition; he should realize anxiety-disorder isn't always easy to manage or control. That's why you are prescribed medication, for those times you can't!

If you're American, people forgo their medications; due to the exorbitant costs and co-payments that have gotten totally out of hand. So they either take less than prescribed by their doctors; or don't refill their prescriptions as needed. You should use retailers with a pharmacy department for discounts; or contact the pharmaceutical company that distributes the medication. They will issue coupons, or offer assistance with the cost of the medication. Just some side-advice! If you go to chain pharmacies; you'll pay top-dollar even for generic drugs!

You DO NOT argue with people behind the wheel!!! That increases any risk of an accident; because you are distracting and upsetting him! Then tension overtakes both passenger and the driver! Not good!

If you are in therapy, perhaps it's time you get a second-opinion and undergo another evaluation. Your therapist may not be effective, if your anxiety is increasing.

It doesn't matter how aware your husband is of your anxiety; people have limits and can take but so much.

You can't expect people to walk on eggshells around you. If you notice your anxiety-levels seem to be peaking; you need to see your doctor for a referral to see a psychologist, for re-evaluation and a better course of treatment.

I don't recommend you do more driving than usual until you do. From point A to point B seems fine; since it's your normal routine. Don't be down on yourself for being really upset about the accident. Everyone involved in the accident was rattled...your husband included!

I suggest you always wear sunglasses, and use earplugs to listen to music to calm yourself during long rides on the highway. The tint of sunglasses makes cars around you seem less threatening. More of a high-definition effect, as if on TV. It lessens sun-glare. Studies are starting to see a connection to light-sensitivity and anxiety, mood, depression, and more.

You need something to take your mind off the road. Nothing is more irritating than someone jumpy next to you on a long drive! I know you can't help it; but if your meds are right, you should be able to. Ask your husband for more understanding and patience. Arguing with him after distracting him doesn't work!

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A female reader, aunt honesty Ireland + , writes (24 August 2018):

aunt honesty agony auntAre you on any medication for your anxiety disorder? Arguing with your husband while he is driving is honestly just going to distract him more.

It is not his fault if a car gets close to you, so I don't think it helps taking it out on him. I do understand anxiety and how it works, but it cannot be easy for your husband either everytime you jump in to the car.

I am glad you didn't get injured but I do fully understand why that would make you more anxious. I suffered with panick attacks after a person ran straight in to the side off us with his car. It stopped me from driving completely and I am still to this day nervous in the car with my husband.

Even though it wasn't your husbands fault it won't stop you being anxious. However you are projecting it to your husband and not the other people on the road which is probably the ones that are the most dangerous.

Anxiety is very hard to explain to someone who has never had it. You sometimes think you are going mad. He simply doesn't understand it and he is probably getting agitated so he tells you that you are over reacting which off course doesn't help in the slightest.

I think you need to go to CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). They work wonders with anxiety and they will give you good coping skills. It might even be good for your husband to attend a session with you so that he can try and understand.

I don't think now is the time to face your fear and push yourself to drive more. You have just had a fright which has no doubt made your anxiety worse, so I think for now try and get an appointment with a therapist and take it from there.

I hope you begin to feel better soon.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (24 August 2018):

You are not a unique case most car drivers when sit in the passenger seat panic. I used to drive for more than 36 yrs but now I stopped due to old age but when I am in the passenger seat and one of the kids is driving or in a taxi I worry so much I keep grumbling to the driver to be careful or not to get too close to other vehicles etc etc. I advice you to avoid sitting in the front passenger seat also you should drive yourself whenever you can on the highways where you have to get used to driving fast for long distances to gain confidence and overcome your fear of driving. Keep in mind that all drivers are like you to varying degrees.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (24 August 2018):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntVisit a therapist and, once you and your therapist understand each other, ask if your husband can join for one session, to help him understand.

That said, there are few things more distracting than someone arguing while you're driving. The more you argue about him being distracted, the more distracted he'll be!

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A male reader, Billy Bathgate United States + , writes (24 August 2018):

Yes see a therapist. Ask you doctor for a referral to someone who treats anxiety disorders then make an appointment

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A male reader, Cerberus_Raphael Sweden +, writes (24 August 2018):

Cerberus_Raphael agony auntHi,

Have you been diagnosed? I think visiting a psychologist might be a good idea, but I also believe that your husband needs to be more considerate of his actions, especially if they're causing you to have panic attacks, which is a pretty strong response.

Facing your fears and driving more often sounds admirable, but I wouldn't recommend it with your level of anxiety.

How aware is your husband of your anxiety? From what you've said, it doesn't sound like he fully understands that it's a legitimate mental health issue. If that's the case, seeing a psychologist would definitely benefit the both of you greatly.

I hope that helps.

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